A pre all-hallows-eve celebration for yourself.
Is it just me? There seem to be a whole crop of new “holidays” and specially designated months popping up in my feed these days. We have had “Heart Health Awareness”, “Brain cancer awareness”, and, “Cancer Control” months for a while now, all clearly geared towards helping us achieve better health through education and awareness. And,of course, there are the especially important Indigenous History, Black History, and Women’s History months that are aimed at educating and changing attitudes. But the focus on the month-long dedication to participating in activities that ask us to take more control of our own health are relative newcomers on the scene. Dry January, Mental Health May, and now Sober October joins the ranks.
What is Sober October and why would we need that if we have already had Dry January?
Ten years ago, the Australian youth health organization Life Education raised money by creating the fundraiser “Ocsober.” From that sprung “Go Sober For October” a UK charity that raised £5m for Macmillan Cancer Support in 2017. Since its inception “Go Sober for October,” has become a global movement, driven partially by social media, with millennials who are more apt to adopt sobriety practices than their GEN X counterparts ever were, and Gen Z is even less likely to choose alcohol. Some of this can be attributed to the perceived “self-policing” that we see in the internet generation, after all when your exploits are most likely bound for publication on social media, you tend to be less interested in participating in any activity that could see you lose control in public.
Sober October asks people to become sponsored to stop drinking alcohol, some even quit using drugs, gambling, and smoking for the 31 days of October, with sponsors donating the funds raised to fight cancer. It is not really surprising that since its inception Sober October has spread well beyond the UK into other places in the world, and now with research drawing more conclusive relationships between alcohol and cancer, the idea of a month of sobriety is more attractive than ever.
How can being sober for a month help you?
So, just what are the benefits of going clean and sober for a WHOLE month? Those who study the effects of alcohol on the human body all attest to the improvement of sleep when you quit drinking. Drinking alcohol results in a low-quality sleep, and when you are better rested you are more capable of making better decisions in many other areas of life, eating habits tend to become healthier, because drinking can activate a part of the brain that controls hunger. According to Hillary Cecere, MS, RDN at Eat Clean Bro “Drunk eating is for real!” she says. “You’re more likely to feel hungrier during or after drinking and make unhealthy food choices.” She notes that alcohol also impacts the brain’s communication pathways, as well as the digestive system and liver. “The liver is responsible for detoxifying and removing alcohol from the blood,” Cecere says. “Over time, this process can lead to a condition known as fatty liver.”
What other benefits can you realize from being sober?
Sure your liver will thank you for going clean for a month but your wallet will also be happy with your choice! We spend a lot more on alcohol than we might realize, skipping the bar after work or not grabbing that bottle or three of Chablis for a weekend can also result in saving money and that can help your bank account gain a “pound or two”, however, there is also strong evidence that with a clearer mind we make better fiscal judgment calls. In his article in Medium Magazine author Ryan Micheals breaks down some sobering figures for us.
“Ounce for ounce, alcoholic drinks take the top spot for most expensive beverages. Because society trains us early on that alcohol manifests fun and happiness, we’re fooled into paying ridiculous prices for it. Most people, regardless of income, wouldn’t dream of paying $18 for a coffee or energy drink, but some of those same people won’t bat an eye at paying that amount for a cocktail at a bar or restaurant.”
Healthy body Healthy Mind!
Other benefits that can arise from abstaining for a month can manifest as a healthier mental state. We tend to pick up habits to fill in the space left by not going out for a drink, and these are usually on the healthier side as well, activities such as meditation and yoga are sought out more during these clean months. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga apps, called the self-care apps by industry insiders have been gaining popularity steadily since 2018, and since the pandemic, it is not surprising to learn that downloads are on the increase. But is there really a correlation between sobriety and a clearer head?
I recently absorbed an article written by Irina Gonzalez and published on Headspace.com that outlines how meditation factored positively on recovery.
“ I was in the middle of my first and only month-long stay at a rehab facility when I realized that my recovery from alcohol addiction largely depended on forming new habits in my life. At the time, I was focused on just getting through every new day, “one day at a time” as they say in some sobriety groups. Soon I realized that I had slowly started to form a routine—and a life that, surprisingly, involved more forms of mindfulness than I ever thought I could enjoy before.
So great, a clean mind, body, and a healthier bank account? Count me in!
But is sober October for everyone?
For most social drinkers stopping cold turkey offers no real physical or mental health challenges however for those who drink heavily or are alcoholics the effects of quitting cold turkey can be fatal. More serious symptoms of withdrawal, known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), can include delirium tremens (DT) in people with severe alcohol addiction. The effects of AWS can appear within hours of stopping drinking, or several days later. Symptoms of AWS often include shaking, headache, high blood pressure, anxiety, and tachycardia (increased heart rate). DT is also a serious type of alcohol withdrawal that can be fatal.
So does this mean that once you are a drinker, you are destined to always be a drinker?
No, not at all, for most people reducing or stopping intake can be a positive boon to health and longevity, and for those who need it there are safe places for medically supervised detox, places like Searidge Alcohol Rehab in Nova Scotia, at Searidge there are trained professionals on hand to help you get through the difficult and risky medical aspects of detox and get your body prepared for the process of healing. If you believe that your drinking is heavy and you want to change your life, give Searidge a call at 1-888-777-9972 they will arrange an assessment of your unique situation and guide you through the process of getting the help you want. If your interest is in getting help for a friend or a loved one, call the intake line at 1-888-777-9972 and speak to one of our intake counselors to learn more about alcoholism and how you can help.
So all that said the question looms? I do plan to take on the challenge?
Yep, aided by these great-looking recipes to get me through the month, I fully expect to come out the other side a happier, healthier, and richer self. What about you? Will you indulge in not indulging?